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Alaska Sneaks Into Playoffs, Clinches No. 6 Seed After Beating Ginebra In Final Game
Interaksyon.com, Wednesday, 25-Mar-2015

The Alaska Aces snuck into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs with a big do-or-die win over Barangay Ginebra, 104-98, in the last game of the elimination round on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Not only did Alaska qualify for the eight-team quarterfinals, they also managed to move up to No. 6 and avoid a twice-to-beat disadvantage against one of the top two seeds after import Damion James scored off an inbound play with 4.8 seconds remaining.

Alaska tied its victim, as well as idle Barako Bull, at 5-6 but will claim the sixth seed after securing the margin they needed to move up on quotient. They will face Purefoods in a best-of-three series while Barangay Ginebra fell to No. 8 and will face top seed Rain or Shine on the wrong end of a twice-to-beat.

James finished with 29 points, including the crucial final basket, and 14 rebounds while getting ample support from local teammates Cyrus Baguio, who had 17, and Calvin Abueva, who had 16.

Alaska led by as much as 15 points in the game before allowing Ginebra to mount a furious rally in the fourth quarter.

The Kings went ahead, 90-89, with 5:04 remaining in the fourth quarter before the Aces outscored their opponents, 15-8, to close the game.

With Alaska leading by double-digits in the fourth quarter, Ginebra showed some of their never-say-die spunk, rattling off 11 unanswered points.

Josh Urbiztondo and LA Tenorio started the run off and Japeth Aguilar scored on a putback to bring the Kings to within four, 89-85. Import Michael Dunigan then struck in transition, completing a three-point play that put them within a solitary point, 89-88.

Aguilar leaked out to try for more fastbreak points but suffered an injury after colliding with Alaska’s JVee Casio. He stayed on the ground for a while before hobbling off into the locker room while keeping weight off his right leg.

Mac Baracael came in to replace Aguilar, and he took care of two free throws to give Ginebra the lead, 90-89.

But Alaska, fighting for their Commissioner’s Cup lives, would have one more run in them as Baguio and Casio made some big shots to give the advantage back to the Aces’ side.

Baracael would try to keep his team in the game, knocking down two three-pointers about a minute apart, but Dondon Hontiveros would immediately respond to the first with a three of his own and Abueva would answer the second with a split from the line and a basket in transition as Alaska went back ahead, 100-96.

James hit a pair of free throws to give Alaska its desired margin with 19 seconds remaining but Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter almost spoiled the Aces’ party by finding the hoop with six ticks to make it 102-98 left on the clock.

But Alaska coach Alex Compton drew up an inbound play that resulted in a good look for his import inside.

Dunigan finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds in the Ginebra loss while Baracael scored 18, including four three-pointers. Aguilar had 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting before being forced to sit out the last five minutes of the game with the injury.

The scores:
Alaska (104) – James 29, Baguio 17, Abueva 16, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 9, Casio 5, Banchero 4, Thoss 4, Exciminiano 4, Manuel 2, Menk 2, Baclao 2, Eman 0, Dela Cruz 0.

Barangay Ginebra (98) – Dunigan 32, Baracael 18, Aguilar 17, Tenorio 10, Urbiztondo 8, Slaughter 7, Caguioa 4, Monfort 2, Pena 0, Helterbrand 0, Ababou 0, Ellis 0.

Quarterscores: 29-23, 52-39, 78-69, 104-98.

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